So there’s this guy, floating in the ocean, barely clinging to a piece of driftwood. He’s been floating out there for a while, doesn’t know where the nearest land is, sometimes isn’t even sure he can keep his head above water. But somehow he’s made it several days…
Then this little speedboat comes along, with a few people inside! The guy gets their attention, they slow down next to him and circle around with the motor running, asking the guy how he’s doing, finding out about the situation that ended up with him out here floating, asking what he needs.
“A way to get myself out of here and back on dry land, well — that’d be really great!” the guy says.
The folks on the speedboat rummage around through their belongings, and find — brand new, still in box, inflatable raft, with motor attachment! They toss the box out to the guy, kick their engine back into gear, and speed off, calling behind as they go, “Hope that helps!”
As the cardboard of the box soaks through and the weight of the package pulls it underwater, the guy catches a glimpse of the “fine print” on the box:
INFLATION REQUIRES 120-VOLT AC OUTLET. DO NOT USE 240-VOLT POWER SOURCE! GASOLINE FOR MOTOR ATTACHMENT NOT INCLUDED. USE UNLEADED FUEL ONLY.
I find myself frequently frustrated by situations where the “help” being offered is much the same as the life raft tossed at the guy in my little story there. And even when the speedboat folks hang around for a few after tossing the box at me, it’s difficult to try explaining why the “perfectly good help” they just gave me won’t work, doesn’t suit my needs, requires help beyond what they’ve given in order to be of any use.
Me: I’m looking for housing…
Them: Oh! The county you’re in should have resources for that, look on their website (gives URL) — check under “Low-Income Housing!”
Me: Well, actually, I’ve looked into that before, it has a page where they say that their waiting lists for Section 8 are closed, and their directory of “Low-Income” places are all out of my price range… by about 300%.
Them: Well, you could call their number and ask them to figure it out for you!
Me: Except for the huge anxiety around making a cold call to an automated system or a complete stranger, enough that doing so often sends me into a panic attack that spirals out of control and leaves me unable to accomplish much of anything that day, including essential stuff like eating…
Them: Geez! You have excuses for everything, don’t you?! Fine… if you don’t really want help, that’s your problem. I tried, at least. I tried…
Reminding people over and over of the same things I’ve already told them gets exhausting. When I’ve told the same person for the 5th or 6th time that I don’t have a magical power outlet in my pocket while I’m floating on a bit of driftwood, I start to lose my patience. No, I can’t plug in the inflation pump for the raft. No, I can’t charge my cellphone in its waterproof container, even though I do have the cord. No, I can’t do anything with the strand of blinking holiday lights you’re offering, though I do see where you’re going with the idea. No, I already explained why I can’t plug in the inflation pump on that raft. Yes, I realize it’s a very nice model, it’s not a matter of lacking gratitude! I just can’t do anyth– oh, fuck it. And fuck you, too.